"Come on, it's this way," Billy said to the other two boys. He led them to a building with its first floor windows all boarded up.

The kids entered through a door that was loose from the hinges. The street lights peeking from large holes in the top floor and missing roof illuminated the room well enough for them to see.

Sitting in a leather armchair, there was a man in all black clothes and a black ski mask. He was slouched back, his head resting just above the back of the chair.

"Is that a puppet?" Kenny asked.

"No, that's not a puppet, it's a manny-kin, dummy," Harry retorted.

"I bet it's a real person," said Billy.

"Is not," protested Harry.

"Okay, I dare you to touch him."

Harry nervously approached the seated figure. He would constantly look back, expecting his friends to try to scare him. The boy stood beside the chair and poked the man's arm. Nothing happened, so he tapped on his shoulder.

"What does he feel like?" Billy wanted to know.

"He doesn't feel like a manny-kin. He feels kinda soft. And cold." He rejoined his two friends.

"Kenny, I dare you to sit on his knee and ask him for Christmas presents," Harry announced.

Kenny looked at Harry, then at the masked figure. Slowly, he walked over. He stood and stared for a moment. When the figure didn't move, the child sat on his knee with both feet on the floor, prepared to run. He named some toys and games, then rushed back to the others.

"I dare you to take his mask off, Kenny told the remaining boy."

Billy walked over to the man. Cautiously, he dug his fingers into the opening of the mask. He paused to make sure the man wouldn't move. Then he slowly lifted the mask up to the man's nose.

That was when the figure moved. The man leaned forth, sending Harry and Kenny running. Billy bolted after them, not looking back. Not even when he heard a loud thud behind him.

The man was now laying face down on the floor. Not making any more movements.